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Cowboys prop Matt Scott.

Canberra veteran Sia Soliola is the first to admit the side is not yet playing at its potential, but after the first month of the season, the Raiders have passed an important development marker.

The Raiders have recorded their best defensive month to start a season since 2000, giving away only 11 points a game.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has preached almost nothing but defence to the side traditionally known for its attacking brilliance and the mantra is starting to pay early dividends.

Soliola said this improved defensive attitude allowed Canberra to come away with victory in round four even when they weren't at their best.

"If you were comparing this to last year we were 0-4 so we're very happy to go up there (Townsville) in tough conditions and to come away with the result," Soliola said.

"There was that period where it could have gone either way and we realised that so it's good to have a game to come away with a result even though it was a bit scrappy game for us and knowing we can improve."

Soliola was again outstanding off the bench for Canberra last weekend, racking up 125 metres from 12 runs along with 30 tackles.

Canberra's middle third laid an excellent platform for the first 30 minutes against the Cowboys, something Soliola knows they are capable of doing again as they come up against former teammate Junior Paulo and the Eels pack.

"Especially after that Melbourne game, we had to address that situation (impact of forwards really quickly," he said.  

Raiders v Eels - Round 5

"We knew we couldn't give the Cowboys a leg-up like we did against the Storm so the guys who have started the last couple of weeks have been really good.

"But in terms of where we want to go (this season) consistency is the key."

The likely return of Kiwi international Joe Tapine is a further boost for the Green Machine.

Tapine underwent a fitness test on his injured thumb on Tuesday and is poised to come back onto the right edge.

If Tapine plays, it could consign Ryan Sutton to the bench again after looking impressive in the run-on side the last two weeks.

"I have said I will play anywhere, whether it's off the bench or starting so that's my main focus is to play as many games," Sutton said.

Stuart was full of praise for Sutton's performance in round four and said the Englishman has grown as a player since he landed in the nation's capital.

Canberra forward Ryan Sutton.
Canberra forward Ryan Sutton. ©Keegan Carroll/NRL Photos

"I've been really happy for Ryan, he's been flying under the radar and the other guys have been getting a little bit more media, but he's started the last two weeks and done really well," Stuart said.

"He got knocked out in the first trial match and he didn't play a lot in the second game, so a lot of our supporters hadn't seen a lot of him before the season.

"But he's a good young player and he's really enjoyed starting."


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